We’ve all had our cheat days. You haven’t eaten rice in two weeks and your mom decides to cook her signature Sinigang. “Rice would be perfect with this,” you think to yourself. You resist the urge, but only up until someone places a bowl of steaming rice right in front of you. Before you know it, you’re on to your 3rd cup. It’s delicious, but once the meal’s over the familiar guilty feeling hits you again and now you’re compelled to hit the gym and burn off all those extra calories. Hassle.
Cheat days are inevitable for anyone trying to stay fit. After all, most of us stay away from food that are bad for us despite tasting oh so good. So how do we get ourselves to feel less guilty about having a little extra?
Have “cheat meals” instead of “cheat days”
Reserving one whole day to gorge on any kind of food you want may sound tempting, but it’s also a surefire way to derail your diet. Remember, in order to lose weight, you’ve got to burn more calories than you put on. So if you decide to have a whole box of pizza to yourself for lunch, followed by a double cheeseburger for merienda, and a tray of lasagna for dinner, you better make sure you’re hitting the gym twice as hard in the days to come. That, or simply minimize your “cheating” to only one meal a week.
Remind yourself that ‘cheating’ is actually good for you
Though the word “cheat” has a negative connotation, giving yourself one cheat meal a week can actually reap some benefits. First of all, having a cheat meal helps the urge to binge-eat. When people deprive themselves of something they love for so long, they can have the tendency to crack under the pressure. That’s why some people don’t believe in quitting cold-turkey. Instead of constantly thinking about food you can’t have, cheat meals serve as a little break from the monotony of healthy foods. This’ll actually help you stay on track better than being too strict with your diet.
Treat it as a reward
Instead of looking at cheat meals as something to be guilty of, try treating them as motivation. Promise yourself that you’re only going to get that slice of moist chocolate cake after you’ve done 4 gym sessions this week. This way, your little treats actually serve as motivators for self-improvement. For best results, up the ante every week by promising yourself better cheat meals the harder you go.
Keep it healthy
Cheat meals are often associated with junk food, fast food, processed food, and pretty much all the stuff that’s just generally bad for you. It’s easy to feel guilty about cheating on your diet when you’re eating food that unhealthy, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. There are tons of healthy ways of cooking and preparing your favorite meals. For example, instead of buying a burger from a fast food joint, prepare one at home and top it off with tons of lettuce, tomato, and onions. Instead of buying pre-packaged cake slices and cookies that are packed with preservatives, learn how to bake with healthy ingredients and lower sugar contents. You’re still rewarding yourself once a week with some tasty treats, the only difference is that these treats are much better for your body.
Your body burns the most calories immediately after a workout. If you’re going to sneak in a cheat meal, make sure you do it right after you’ve hit the gym. That way, it’ll feel like a reward to a great workout session and will be included in the post-workout burn.
Another way to plan your cheat meals better is to know how much calories you need to be burning each week. Try to have a cheat meal that doesn’t make you exceed that limit or plan for an extra session at the gym to burn off the extra calories you’ve acquired.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
A lot of fitness enthusiasts and coaches don’t like the term “cheat” because it implies that you’re doing something bad. Many people who have their cheat meals or cheat days often feel like they’ve failed at staying disciplined, or veered off-course from their journey to becoming fit. When they do this, they can fall into the trap of giving up, or thinking it just isn’t worth it if they keep messing up. The truth is, staying fit isn’t easy. It’s a journey and there will always be bumps in the road. Instead of seeing them as road bumps think of them as rest stops. Opportunities to stop and take in the view. After all, how often do you get to enjoy a decadent chocolate cake with some people you love?
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